The Twentieth Century Memorial Museum, in cooperation with the Polish Institute and the Libri Prohibiti Library, has prepared two exhibitions about these important historical events in its new headquarters in the House of Pages at Hradčany on the occasion of the anniversary of 17 November 1989. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was not possible to allow those interested to visit the exhibitions in person, so the museum has prepared guided tours of them, which are available online starting from 17 November 2020. On this occasion, the museum’s future headquarters, the House of Pages at Hradčany, was also presented. The past activities of this Prague institution, which celebrated its first anniversary on 17 November 2020, were also presented.
Petr Blažek, a historian and the Member of the Museum’s Board of Trustees, and Maciej Ruczaj, the Director of the Polish Institute in Prague, spoke about the exhibitions. Alexander Vondra, former spokesman for Charter 77 and co-founder of the Civic Forum, also spoke. The tour was accompanied by a few songs by Jaroslav Hutka, an actor of the November 1989 events, folk singer, dissident and signatory of Charter 77.
YEAR OF MIRACLES
The first exhibition Year of Miracles, Czechoslovakia and the collapse of the Soviet bloc was created to mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the communist regime. It was first exhibited on the initiative of Alexander Vondra in November 2019 in the European Parliament under the auspices of the ECR (European Conservatives and Reformists).
The partner of the exhibition is Libri Prohibiti, a library of samizdat and exile literature, which has provided the visual material for the exhibition. The author of the exhibition is Petr Blažek, a historian. The main theme of the exhibition is the fall of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia in the international context – especially in the context of the collapse of the Soviet bloc. Attention is therefore paid not only to the domestic events of 1987-1989, but also to the major milestones in the internal development of other Soviet bloc states, with an overlap to the developments in 1991 in the various Soviet satellites greatly influenced by each other, just as they were influenced by the consequences of the global superpower struggle. There is eloquent talk of a domino effect, as a result of which millions of people gained freedom and satellite states gained independence. The Year of Miracles was also an important turning point in European history, as it opened a new chapter in European integration.
The Year of Miracles exhibition panels can be viewed here in electronic form
DON’T BE AFRAID!
The second exhibition Don’t Be Afraid! The Church and Central Europe’s Path to Freedom was prepared by the Polish Institute in Prague and its partners, especially the Office of the Archbishop of Prague and the Hungarian Institute in Prague. It was created on the occasion of the upcoming 30th anniversary of the Visegrad Group, which is to be commemorated in February 2021. It also aims to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of John Paul II, the first pope from Central Europe and an important symbol of the struggle for freedom in the region. The exhibition also highlights the role of the Catholic Church during the totalitarian era and the importance of four prominent Central European cardinals: Josef Beran, Jan Chrysostom Korc, József Mindszenty and Stefan Wyszyński. The texts to the exhibition were written by the Polish writer and publicist Grzegorz Górny.